New Album From Former Jodeci Members Nods to Soul Revival

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New Album From Former Jodeci Members Nods to Soul Revival

In a country where the top pop sensations croon ballads or attempt to dance hard enough to put Janet Jackson to shame, K-Ci & JoJo's music is warmly welcomed. Rhythm and blues vocals backed with lyrics about heartbreak and love have given the American duo international success and a following in Korea.

With their latest album, "X," released in Korea last week by Universal Music, K-Ci & JoJo are sure to win over more Korean hearts with ballads such as "Honest Lover" and "Crazy." "X" proves that the Hailey brothers - Cedrick "K-Ci" Hailey and Joel "JoJo" Hailey - have romance down to a formula.

Backed by heavyweights such as producers Babyface, Teddy Riley, Timbaland (Tim Mosley) and Donald "DeVante" DeGrate, K-Ci and JoJo have created an album with a smooth sound and equally smooth lyrics. Influenced by Johnnie Taylor and Bobby Womack, "X" mixes 21st century rhythm and blues with old school soul.

K-Ci & JoJo's third album opens with "Honest Lover," which makes full use of K-Ci's gruff voice and JoJo's silkier one. The sound is large, almost too orchestrated. The next song, "Wanna Do You Right," is straight out of 1960s soul, as is "I Can't Find the Words." The latter has a finger-snapping gospel intro.

"Crazy" is another tribute to love. It was also used in the soundtrack for the movie "Save the Last Dance," not yet released in Korea. "All the Things I Should Have Known," produced by Babyface, has catchy lyrics: "I should have cared just a little bit more. I should'na listened to a word from the fellas. I should'na let my sweet go."

The serenades keep coming, but to keep the mix from being too sappy there are more aggressive songs such as "Game Face" and "Thug N U Thug N Me." "Thug N U" guest stars Tupac Shakur rapping and is a departure from the brothers' usual style.

K-Ci and JoJo have proven themselves masters of the ballad in the past with chart-topping singles and platinum-selling albums. But like most formulaic tracks, "X" is not groundbreaking. Nevertheless, passionate singing and love songs are what won over their fan base when the brothers left the group Jodeci in the late '90s.

As Jodeci, they released hit albums beginning with "Forever My Lady" in 1991, then "Diary of a Mad Band" in 1993 and "The Who, the After-Party, the Hotel" in 1995.

The Hailey brothers went their own way with "Love Always" in 1997. The single "All My Life" shot up to number one on the charts, followed by "Tell Me It's Real" from the 1999 album "It's Real." Their dizzying success included two Grammy nominations and an American Music Award.

Meanwhile, Korea has been following the resurgence of soul music with stars such as Jo Kwan-wu, Kim Jo-han and Park Jung-hyun.

After recording "X," released in America by MCA Records last December, the brothers have been reconnecting with the other half of Jodeci, brothers Dalvin and Donald DeGrate. They are planning to record a Jodeci reunion album, according to MTV.

by Joe Yong-hee

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